Today’s post is by Marina Robb, the founder and managing director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd, organisations that aim to transform education and health through nature.  Marina has written (with Jon Cree) The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy (2021) and (with Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson) Learning with Nature: a how-to guide to inspiring children through outdoor games and activities (2015). As ever with our blogs the ideas expressed are not necessarily shared by NAEE.

In the early 1990s as a young activist for Friends of the Earth, I first started to learn and teach about the science of climate change. It was at this time, I asked myself the question, ‘What really motivates people to care about their environment?’.   

As a young primary school teacher, with geography specialism I embarked on being as creative and engaging as possible with my year 5 group. I always wondered how it could be possible, despite our differences, to share a common feeling of care for nature and people.

My teacher career was preceded by a degree in Environmental Management, and then a deeper dive into a Masters in Environmental Education, which encouraged us all to open up and be curious about a range of epistemologies, theoretical perspectives, methodologies and methods.  More than 35 years on, what I have learned is that ‘ways of knowing’ and how you frame or understand your worldview, what you value, does really matter when you are trying to make a difference in the world.  It also lays down the foundation of our cultural and story-making lives. 

Climate change is one of the big issues of our times. Of course, it requires serious leadership – enforced by the law to reduce carbon emissions and a move away from fossil fuels, yet this is only one of the more visible actions.   We must ask ourselves what is the system, society, culture that has created industrial-led climate change?  What we find is that climate change is very much a social, economic (corporate), political and cultural issue.  An issue with less external fixes.  Cultures are deeply habitual – this is how we do things around here – and have many ‘blind spots’ which are by their nature hard to see.  But see and evolve we must!

The western paradigm has objectified the living world and adults from this lineage rarely interact as if the non-human world matters or has any agency, important role or meaningful purpose.  We have been brought up within a materialist worldview, that fails to animate the world around us.   Ways of knowing can though, be very body-felt, rather cerebral or measured, and it’s the children and Earth-based cultures who are the experts of this theoretical perspective.  Environmental justice, racism, capitalism, poverty is entangled with climate change.   How does our education, economic and social systems support behaviours that produce adults (not mature adults) who unwittingly collude that nature doesn’t really matter?   Or to grow up without experiencing the satisfaction of deep nature connection?  How does our curriculum offer to young people ways to reflect on their own cultural beliefs and values?  How do we provide authentic discovery of what feels wrong or right and the consequences of our individual and collective behaviour? 

Climate change education is as much about moral, emotional and spiritual bankruptcy as it is about the procurement or carbon.  It needs to be radical – it needs to go the roots of this agreed story.  We are lacking a largely inner compass that leads us towards co-creating possible futures that promote regeneration.   It is a collective and personal effort.  The current understanding of trauma and cultural trauma suggests that we have become disassociated with relationships that really matter – like with the non-human world.  Many of us are de-sensitised from our feelings and sensations, which makes it hard to put ‘love’ at least on par with reason.  Our discomfort with the spiritual is mired in a legacy of religious power, yet the currency of the spiritual is ‘love’ – love of self, others, and the land.  Other cultures do not limit love to just immediate families.

Climate change education fit for the 21st Century recognises that we are not only machines of reason. Rather we are sensory and passionate, with a rich inner world that is worthy of examination. Our natural self, our natural world, is entwined within a complex web of living and sentient connections. Such an intimacy, I believe, is a necessary part of climate change education.  This kind of climate change education means not only would we have a chance to learn to not harm what we love, but we would also have the opportunity to participate and re-imagine healthy relational systems.


Marina can be contacted at:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment